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Matchbox

Set P5006

British Commandos

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 1978
Contents 46 figures and one dinghy
Poses 19 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Light Green, Dark Green
Average Height 21 mm (= 1.51 m)

Review

Between 1940 and 1945 British commandos undertook many raids against occupied Europe with varying degrees of success. Nonetheless wartime propaganda exaggerated their achievements and provided welcome good news, particularly when the news from other fronts like North Africa and Singapore was not good. Later in the war they acted as assault infantry, and shortly after the war's end the army commandos were disbanded.

The basic uniform was the standard British infantry kit, but over time many small adaptations were made in response to their unusual role. However the most famous of these was more for comfort than anything else, yet it became a means by which commandos were recognised. The 'cap, comforter' is being worn by almost all these men, though in action they would sometimes have worn a beret, Tam o'Shanter or the standard steel helmet. They wear standard battledress and are in a very light order, i.e. they carry almost no equipment apart from ammunition pouches. In fact they were often heavily laden with various specialist tools for the task at hand such as explosives, ropes etc. Weaponry is good, with Stens, Thompsons and Brens adding to the rifles.

As with all Matchbox sets there are a lot of poses for the money. These are well animated and for the most part are appropriate, though we felt the guy charging with the bayonet was not likely to be a common sight. The men with knives are quite dramatic, and one seems to be overpowering a German sentry that has also been included, although this latter figure has his rifle slung over his shoulder in a very strange way. One man has a rope with a grappling hook, and another is climbing a scaling ladder, but apart from that the only unusual piece of kit is the dinghy, which suffers from only having one man to paddle it, making it very difficult to steer in a straight line.

The figures are smaller than usual at about 1/76 scale, but the detail is quite good. The examples we scanned above had a lot of flash round the edge of the mould, though other examples do not suffer from this. Matchbox maintained a pretty consistent level of quality in their small range of sets, and this set is no exception. Some nice figures with good but not great detail, missing any serious kit but properly armed and for the most part well posed.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 8
Pose Quality 9
Pose Number 9
Sculpting 8
Mould 8

Further Reading
Books
"Army Commandos 1940-45" - Osprey (Elite Series No.64) - Mike Chappell - 9781855325791
"Dieppe 1942" - Osprey (Campaign Series No.127) - Ken Ford - 9781841766249
"No.10 (Inter-Allied) Commando 1942-45" - Osprey (Elite Series No.142) - Nick van der Bijl - 9781841769998
"St Nazaire 1942" - Osprey (Campaign Series No.92) - Ken Ford - 9781841762319
"The Commandos" - Arms & Armour (Uniforms Illustrated No.20) - Derek Oakley - 9780853688440
"The Commandos" - Time-Life (World War II Series) - Russell Miller
"The Royal Marines 1939-93" - Osprey (Elite Series No.57) - Nick van der Bijl - 9781855323889
"The World War II Tommy" - Crowood - Martin Brayley & Richard Ingram - 9781861261908
Magazines
"Military Illustrated" - No.11
"Military Illustrated" - No.10
"Military Illustrated" - No.26
"Military Illustrated" - No.30

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